Coronavirus has impacted people globally. However, it has not just impacted people. When you look at the impact of coronavirus pandemic, you will realize that every part of our planet, whether it is the environment or the animals have been affected by it.
Today, however, we would focus on the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on our environment.
One surprising outcome of coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is a positive effect on our environment. It is because all the polluting activities are curbed all over the world. As people scramble to stay indoors, economic activities and activities polluting our environment are at a halt.
The question which, however, remains, is, how positive has the pandemic been for our environment? We will answer that below.
Coronavirus and Environment
If you have been following the news, you would know that airlines have been grounded. Similarly, manufacturing plants and construction activity has come to a standstill as well. All these sectors produce a lot of pollution and CO2 emissions, which have a disastrous impact on our environment. So, the curb in these sectors has positive results on the environment. We will highlight some of the positive effects of coronavirus on our environment below.
☑ Lower Emissions
A few of the images released by NASA clearly show that the areas most affected by coronavirus have experienced clear skies and less impure air. Coronavirus impact has been most profound in China. It was the first nation to suffer from this pandemic. These images by NASA clearly state that air pollution is significantly reduced within one month of the curbs due to coronavirus.
☑ Varied Energy Consumption
Most people are indoors due to the curbs on travel and mobility. So, commercial energy consumption has gone down significantly. However, this has been nullified to a certain extent due to higher use in residential premises. Nevertheless, on a net on that basis, the energy consumption is lower.
It is because most of the commercial establishments used a significant amount of energy as compared to the residential premises. Moreover, with economic conditions degrading, even the people who are locked down in their homes are consuming energy judiciously to reduce their utility bills. That is why; energy consumption is undoubtedly lower.
☑ Lower Coal Consumption
The earliest country to get affected by COVID-19 was China. That is why the data on coal consumption is available for this country. Coal consumption or coal-burning results in a significant amount of air pollution. It releases not only CO2 but other gases into our environment as well. That is why it is an important metric to take into account when trying to gauge the effect of this pandemic on the environment.
As the graph above suggests, coal consumption, especially by the power farms in China, is lessened by at least 33% or maybe more. It directly indicates that the electricity demand is on the lower side. A 33% reduction in coal consumption means that the CO2 and pollutants released by these power plants into the environment are also 33% lower. Once again, it is a testament to the fact that the coronavirus pandemic has actually had positive impacts on our environment.
☑ Low Traffic
One thing which you can never deny is that the traffic is on the lower side. When you look at the traffic across various metros all over the world, you will realize that there is a significant reduction.
For example, the traffic in New York is down by 28%. In Los Angeles, traffic congestion is down by a whopping 53%. Similarly, when you look at Rome, the traffic is down by 48%, and in London, it is down by 36%.
All these figures indicate that people are actually staying indoors. It also means that the lockdown/curbs in these countries are being followed.
Automobiles release CO2, Sulphur, and various other gases into our atmosphere. They are one of the biggest sources of air pollution. They also release particulate pollutants that can pose a respiratory risk. The decongestion means that the speed at which these pollutants and harmful gases are being released into the environment is lower. In this regard as well, you can be sure that the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has been beneficial for the environment. It has led to a decrease in water pollution. Do you know the major sources of water pollution? These include:
- River dumping
- Marine dumping
- Agricultural pollution
Commercial activity was one of the sources of river dumping and marine dumping. Commercial activities, including factories and constructional activity, has been brought to a standstill. Globally, the manufacturing plants are operating at less than 50%. Due to this reason, commercial sewage, marine dumping, and river dumping have reduced in quantum significantly. With it, levels of water pollution have come down as well.
Another cause of water pollution is oil pollution. Due to an unprecedented crash in oil prices resulting from low demand, oil production is being scaled down globally. While during the first few weeks of this pandemic, the production was not scaled-down, but now it is. It indicates that the instances of oil pollution will be on the lower side as well. With reduced activity in the oil and gas sector, marine dumping will decrease as well.
Whichever way you look at it, there has been a drastic reduction in water pollution. As you can see, the COVID-19 pandemic has been beneficial for the environment. The question is, will these benefits be long-lasting?
Will Positive Benefits on Environment Last?
Many people think that once factories, power plants, manufacturing plants resume their activity, the environmental benefits will nullify. While the majority of these environmental benefits will be nullified, but this pandemic will undoubtedly accelerate our move towards a sustainable economy. Already, some research reports indicate that the Paris climate accord goals will be achieved sooner due to the environmental benefits achieved during this pandemic.
While all of these environmental benefits are not sustainable, but in the longer run, these ecological benefits will undoubtedly give an impetus to create a sustainable ecosystem.
Moreover, governments and authorities will get a stark view of the scale at which we are polluting our environment. Photos and videos of the positive effects of this pandemic on the environment are going viral. It will increase awareness regarding the activities which we are undertaking that harm the environment. As a result, these forced environmental benefits might not sustain entirely, but they will undoubtedly propel us towards a more sustainable future.